I love studying history. And one of the most pivotal times in American history was the Civil War. Progeny Press produces all sorts of literary study guides and I was very pleased to receive and review Across Five Aprils. Across Five Aprils is a novel by Irene Hunt which is set in the Civil War era; the main character in the book was actually the author’s grandfather. In the story, a family is divided as two sons fight on opposite sides. The book follows the youngest brother, Jethro, as he tried to make sense of what is going on around him.
The study guide is available in three formats: as a PDF file, as a printed booklet, or as a PDF file on CD. I reviewed the interactive PDF file version which costs $18.99. The printed and bound book is $18.99, and the PDF sent to you on a CD is $16.99. You can also order the CD and booklet together for $23.99. Regardless of the format purchased, you as the teacher can reproduce pages for your students. The guide is divided into sections; in this case the 12 chapters of the book were divided into 6 sections. Written for middle grade students, the study guide is meant to take 8-10 weeks to complete. The only other materials your student will need is the book, a dictionary, thesaurus, bible, and optional concordance.
The study guide suggests having the student read the book in its entirety within the first week of study. There are some suggestions for pre-reading activities, which include researching the cause of the Civil War and slavery issues. During the week of book reading the study guide suggests that your student read about Fort Sumter, study the Union and Confederate flags, and map out the battlefields as they take place in the book. Once the book is read, the meaty learning of the study guide begins.
Each section has a variety of sub sections: vocabulary, reading comprehension questions, connections with history and optional writing assignments. I liked the variety in the guide; in some sections the vocabulary was multiple choice, in others the student needed to fill in the blanks with a synonym using their thesaurus. There were “Dig Deeper” questions, which ask the student to evaluate the actions of the main character, or to compare the reaction of the patriarch to scripture.
The study guide also touches on other writing and grammatical instruction; there are explanations and questions about idioms, similes, metaphors, and personification. A persuasive paragraph assignment asks the student to show how scripture calls us to maturity and growth. There are suggestions for discussion with other students and optional activities.
After all the chapters have been studied there is an overview section with essay type questions. This part can be used as a test if the teacher wishes. Throughout these questions the student learns about plot, novel conflict, rising action, climax and motif. There are also essay and writing suggestions at the end of the guide; these include creative writing projects, imaginary letters, and biographies.
The version I reviewed was the interactive PDF, which is conveniently sent right to your email. It had blank fields which your student fills in; a very easy format to follow and correct. I appreciated that this study guide didn’t just ask questions, but also explained in simple language what a hyperbole was, or how to see dramatic irony in a novel. The questions in the sections were age appropriate and thought provoking; I especially liked how there was an emphasis on godliness and the use of scripture to evaluate character. Studying a historical novel in this way was good compliment to our homeschooling, and could easily be incorporated into a co-op setting. I am excited to see other well known books on Progeny Press’ website; and the wide range, from lower elementary to high school, of the study guides that they offer. See what other members of The Crew are saying about this and other literature guides here.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.